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Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa better watch their rum-soaked backs. There's a new duo of Disney-owned swashbucklers about to set sail in the studio's big screen adaptation of the Jungle Cruise theme park ride. The film — helmed by Black Adam director Jaume Collet-Serra — enjoyed its world premiere last night and is drawing comparisons to some of the greatest summer blockbusters ever made: Pirates of the Caribbean, The Mummy, and Romancing the Stone.
Those films were listed by Variety's Courtney Howard, who described Jungle Cruise as "a thrill ride you’ll want to see repeatedly. The most fun you’ll have at the movies all summer."
Set against the backdrop of World War I (aka the 1910s), the film centers around Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt), a fearless physician looking for a mythical tree deep within the Amazon jungle. To find it, she charters a ride on the La Quila, a shabby tramp steamer owned by Frank Wolff (Dwayne Johnson).
Captain Wolff takes on the job against his better judgement — after all, everything in the Amazon is hostile to human beings — and the two embark on a wild journey that involves man-eating jaguars, undead conquistadors, and a nefarious German prince in possession of a U-boat. It's very much a fusion of Golden Age Hollywood (à la John Huston's The African Queen) and the debonair serials of the 1930s and '40s that helped inspire a certain university professor/archaeologist/action hero.
"@TheRock's been saying for two years that it's inspired by Indiana Jones, Romancing the Stone, and African Queen, and that's exactly the way it plays," tweeted Rob Keyes of ScreenRant. "It's super fun, with lots of heart, and after the first 10 minutes you'll be locked in. More plz."
Doug Jamieson of The Jam Report also brought up Pirates of the Caribbean and The Mummy, while managing to slip in two small critiques about "sketchy CGI and [an] overly long running time." Beyond those small gripes, however, he called Jungle Cruise "a hell of a lot of fun" that really shines whenever Jack Whitehall (who plays Lily's brother, MacGregor Houghton) is on the screen.
"Disney’s #JungleCruise is a lot of fun — a big, fantastical adventure that feels similar in tone to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies & is packed with surprises," tweeted Erik Davis of Fandango. "Dwayne Johnson & Emily Blunt are great together, but Jesse Plemons is a riot. Tons of nods to the ride it’s based on."
"Jungle Cruise is a big, fun & entertaining summer adventure for the entire family," said We Live Entertainment founder Scott Menzel. "Dwayne Johnson charms & delights as the script truly plays to his strengths. I loved the nods to the theme park ride & the banter between Johnson/Blunt. They make a great comedic duo."
Chris St Lawrence of DiscussingFilm was a little more hesitant to equate the project with Pirates, which spawned a multi-billion franchise for the Mouse House (a reboot is currently on the way).
"Disney's #JungleCruise is no Pirates of the Caribbean, but @TheRock and Emily Blunt manage to hold things together — until they're blown out of the water by the villainous joy that is Jesse Plemons's Prince Joachim!" they tweeted.
"#JungleCruise swings for the fences with a grand and over-the-top film that knows exactly what it is," wrote Nightmarish Conjurings founder Shannon McGrew. "Director Jaume Collet-Serra’s horror roots shine through with some impressive creature designs — horror fans will be delighted with the darker portions of this film."
"After watching #junglecruise [I] now understand why @TheRock wanted Jaume Collet-Serra to direct #BlackAdam," tweeted Collider's Steven Weintraub. "Jungle Cruise is such a fun adventure that works for all ages. Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson have fantastic chemistry & it’s loaded with nods to ride. Thumbs way up."
Edgar Ramírez (Bright) and Paul Giamatti (Gunpowder Milkshake) co-star.
Jungle Cruise docks in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access Friday, July 30.